FOUR veteran taekwondo practitioners aged from 53 to 73 will be representing Australia at the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) World Championships in Belarus this year.
More than 700 competitors from 60 countries are expected to travel to Belarus to compete in the competition.
The four veterans represent the Low Taekwondo-Do academy in Darlington, with Ian Green and Patricia McQueen coming from Mundaring, Leanne Searle from Rockingham and Patrick Ng from Stirling.
They qualified following strong performances at the National Championships in Sydney in December, with Ng winning a bronze medal.
For Grandfather Ng, who turns 53 in August, it represents the opportunity of a lifetime to compete on the big stage and display his passion for the sport.
“It means a great deal and is a huge honour to be named to represent Australia. I still can’t believe it, it is very humbling,” he said.
“I didn’t start taekwondo to compete with others, never have and never will – I see martial arts as a very personal journey of self-improvement.”
Ng, the youngest member of the four, started training in the sport aged 10 in Malaysia; however, he had to take a break due to study, work and family commitments.
Ng has taken part in multiple competitions in the past, competing twice in nationals and was selected to represent Australia as recently as December 2017.
Having arrived in Australia in 1984 as a university student, Ng is currently trained at his academy by Grand Master Low Ming Tuck, who is coincidentally the son of his original teacher in Malaysia.
“I started when I was 10 in Malaysia and had my grading done by Grand Master Low’s father, I did not expect to find Low’s son to be living and teaching here in Perth,” Ng said.
The Malaysian was initially selected to compete in the 2016 Junior and Veteran Championships in Italy, but had to withdraw due to tragic circumstances.
“My mother was very sick, two months leading up to the Championships; there was no way I could compete. She passed away shortly after,” he said.
“I am therefore grateful to be given a second chance to represent Australia and hope to do my team instructors, teammates and the country proud in Belarus. I just need to keep training and stay injury-free,” he said.
The current Australian team consists of 17 competitors – 10 veterans and seven juniors, with 11 team members representing WA.
WA has a reason to be proud of the national team with the youngest junior, Kelsie Williams, aged 14 and the oldest veteran, 73-year-old Ian Green, both from the state.
Other WA team members are practitioners from the Oceanic Taekwon-Do Academy and the Inspirit Taekwon-Do Academy in Geraldton and Darlington respectively.
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art practiced throughout the world.
It is an amateur sport, which means that competitors have to cover all their own costs to train and compete at the World Championships.
Ng is seeking financial support from companies and individuals to help alleviate the cost of return airfares and accommodation.
More details on how to donate can be found at a dedicated GoFundMe page called Oldies at TKD Champs, Belarus 2018.